Martial Arts cover a broad range of activities that involve methods of mental discipline, fighting techniques, and physical exercises. Martial arts started in the ancient cultures of Asia, and are used today around the world mainly for self-defense, improving focus and good health. It is one of the most popular forms of exercise too.

Origins

Martial arts began in the ancient times of Asia, including China, India, and Japan. There have been many artifacts from ancient times like paintings and sculptures with people posing with possible martial arts techniques. Kalaripayattu (sometimes shortened as Kalari) is an Indian martial art and fighting system that originated in Kerala. It is considered to be the oldest martial art in existence, with its origin dating back to the 3rd century BCE. Lots of practice is included in this and it isn’t easy at all to perfect the art. Moreover, martial arts developed in countries that have been historically isolated from the Western world. It also involved intellectual concepts as well as physical techniques, and has been influenced by many of the religious and philosophical systems of the East. The philosophy of the Taoists holds that the universe operates within laws of balance and harmony, and that people must live within the rhythms of nature. The art also cultivates these concepts of balance and adaptation to the natural flow of events.

Benefits of Martial Arts

Martial arts teach self-defense, and improve self confidence and self-esteem. When taken as exercise, martial arts can improve balance, strength, stamina, flexibility, and posture. They enhance weight loss and improve muscle tone. Mentally, martial arts can teach stress management, improve concentration, and increase willpower. Some martial arts, such as qigong and t’ai chi, are used for longevity, disease prevention, and healing purposes, making them effective exercises for those with health conditions and for the elderly. Some teachers claim that martial arts can be used as spiritual practices, bringing balance, peace, and wisdom to dedicated practitioners.

Types of Martial Arts

There are hundreds of different martial arts, all of them having same similarities. With time, there were many techniques and systems developed by different masters. Martial arts are generally classified as soft or hard, internal or external, yin or yang, but they all need to embrace these complementary aspects. Some of the arts focus o the inner strength and some focus on muscular power and speed.

Kalaripayattu

The Orient’s treasure trove, a gift to the modern world and the mother of all martial arts. Legend traces the 3000-year-old art form to Sage Parasurama- the master of all martial art forms and credited to be the re-claimer of Kerala from the Arabian Sea. The holistic approach of kalaripyattu has caught the attention of martial art practitioners and fitness enthusiasts in recent times. The Practice of kalaripayattu has immense benefits spread across various levels. It increases flexibility and strength, increases immunity and overall health, makes the body fast and dynamic, and gets rid of laziness, improves concentration, receptivity, self-discipline and self-awareness, improves one’s ability to deal with stress and much more.

Karate

It means “empty handed.” This form of fighting began on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Karate is now the general term for an entire group of Japanese martial arts. Karate does not involve in wrestling or grappling but it’s all about the defense mechanisms.

Kung fu

It means “skill” in Chinese, and is the generic term for a whole spectrum of martial arts methods that developed in China. Kung fu is also called as wushu in china. It consists of thousands of various techniques which are categorized into hard and soft, taught for both offensive and defensive positions. It uses punching, kicking, grappling, and blocking moves in addition to the use of certain weapons.

Aikido

It is a relatively new martial art, developed in the 1930s by a Japanese teacher named Morihei Ueshiba (1883–1969). Aikido in Japanese means “connecting with life energy.” Aikido teaches people a variety of techniques and teaches how to disarm an attacker, including such defense moves as blocks, escapes, grabs, and falling safely to the ground.

Judo

It means “the gentle way” in Japanese and was developed as an tool by a teacher named Jigoro Kano in the 1800s. Judo emphasizes defensive moves as holds and grappling, and students learn how to disarm attackers by applying pressure to specific sensitive points on the body. It is performed completely in matches.

T’ai chi chuan

Also called t’ai chi, consists of a sequence of flowing movements performed very slowly. These movements emphasize posture and the flow of the body’s qi ( Body’s inner energy). Though it is considered a martial art and consisting of fighting postures, tai chi is more used as a meditation technique. In China, millions of people, particularly the elderly, use tai chi daily to improve their health and flexibility.

Jujitsu

It is a Japanese martial art that emphasizes flexibility, fluidity of motion and quickness. It consists of kicking, punching, holding, and striking moves as well as the use of weapons. Tae kwon do is a Korean martial art that means “kick-punch-art.”

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